Wine Dine and Play: Romano’s Greek Italian Pizzeria Restaurant

Romano’s Greek Italian Pizzeria Restaurant

Is It Opa!! 
Brandon, Florida USA
Cuisine Style: Greek, Italian, and American
Dined in May 2017
By Sean Overpeck (CFE)

The Romano’s restaurant is a staple in Brandon the community, serving melting pot blends of Greek and Italian cuisine, focusing in on the southern island style recipes. The restaurant has been around for 40 years and is still growing. Don’t expect fine dining, exotic wine and other liquors or beyond the basics in customer service, but double points for authenticity, down to earth welcoming atmosphere, and decently prepared cuisine with vegetables from the local farmers markets not the Sysco truck. It may not be an Agora style selection of a market but considering the location and the obstacles to a local mind-set population, it's not half bad.


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Executive Chef and Owner:
Chef George Manasakis


Main review:
Established in 1977 Chef Manasakis takes his younger heritage from growing up on Crete and brings it full force into the recipes at Romano’s Greek, and Italian restaurant.  They advertise that they are “the home of everything from scratch,” however certain things seemed to be not from scratch in my opinion. The website does need to be better maintained as they are still showing the special of the day from October 2015, not the spring-summer of 2017 when we dined, and this article was written. Also under their Facebook they are listed as Italian, Greek, and Pizza restaurant, but besides one pita pizza on the kids menu, there are no pizzas anywhere else that I could see, that needs to be updated as well. They recently began serving beers and wine to include the Romano’s Lager, but from which local or national brewery it is from is unknown. Though I didn’t have one, it is advertised as “a crisp, refreshing lager made just for Romano’s customers.” Maybe if they add some Greek wines like Agiorgitko, Mavrodaphne, or Xinomavro, then that would spice up some of the dishes as well. Italy alone has over 4000 grape varietals, so when he does expand the list, I hope he doesn’t put Maso Canali or some crap like that on it. Though they did have some Greek Retsina wine from the Tsantali Winery in the northern mountain regions of Greece. From there tasting notes this wine is a bright pale yellow color with light golden hues. The nose is vibrant with aromas of citrus, pear and apple, as well as elegant fresh pine resin.  Mouthwatering with a dry and refreshing palate that leads to a line-and-pine, saline finish.

Menu:
    • Appetizers
    • Salads and Soups
    • Pitas
    • Subs
    • Burgers and Sandwiches
    • Little Italy
    • Greek Favorites
    • Land and Sea
    • Platters
    • Romano’s creations
    • Value Favorites
    • Sides
    • Desserts
    • Dessert Drinks
    • Kids Menu
    • Brunch Menu
The Greeks have a great influence in the Central Florida area, as Tarpon Springs which is roughly and hour drive from Brandon has the largest Greek-American population in the United states, with classic sponge docks just like back home. A few items to highlight for you. Like any Greek restaurant you must have the saganaki, a feta cheese rubbed in flour, cooked in oil, then topped with alcohol, so that as a table-side presentation it can be lit on fire. The server yelled out Opa!!, once the saganaki was lit. Opa! (Ώπα) is a Greek saying used frequently during celebrations such as weddings and large feasts and an expression sometimes accompanied by a purposeful or unintentional plate smashing. The chef might have gotten mad if we did that, and charge us extra, so the plates were fine by the time we left.

Saganaki flame

The French Onion soup is one of three on the menu, with the other two being a soup of the day and a classic Avgolemono soup. French onion is a classic European soup far to the northwest of their fellow greek neighbors, which is where it should have stayed. French onion should have a large sum of onions to the broth ratio, and the beef stock cooked down with a very hearty flavor. most important is the deglazing of the onions  with red wine bringing out an even more intense flavor for the soup. This could not be tasted, though the presentation with the melted cheese and the cup the soup was in were both pleasant in appearance.
French Onion Soup
The Moussaka, a very classic beef casserole style Greek and Balkan dish that is really hard to mess up, yet that item had to be returned as the members of our party though the taste was not good, and the product was cold when delivered, which made me think back to the “everything is made from scratch” statement. Was this pre-made or a box product that was reheated to 165°f in accordance to ServSafe and the US Food Code? Also the picture on their website looked a thousand times for appetizing then the product delivered to our table. This is also where the service went down hill, as we had to track the server down a few times, and once the complaint was made on a food item, she became scarce, and not as attentive. 
Moussaka 


Dessert:
Baklava, rice pudding, homemade Greek cookies, tiramisu, and Galactoboureko rounded up their list, and again all advertised as homemade. We did not have room for dessert, and bypassed. Galactoboureko is a creamed semolina custard and phyllo topped with a sweet syrup. 


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BRIO Tuscan Grille Relaxed Tuscan-inspired Italian chain eatery, reviewed in Sarasota, Florida
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Locale Seasonal Northern Italian at the De Bortoli Winery in the Yarra Valley, Australia
Castile Restaurant Med-Latin & tapas café with 360 views at the Hotel Zamora, in St. Pete Beach, Florida
Ponte Vecchio Fine dining Italian classics in the Fallsview Hotel, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Acropolis Greek Taverna Modern café-tavern chain with Greek eats; reviewed in St. Petersburg, Florida


Other Pictures:


Gyro with Tzatziki
Spaghetti with sauce
Greek Salad




Final notes, review basics, and observations:

What is a restaurant review? How does the rating system work? Most reviews are subjective, depending on the writer; but they should also be responsibly, and respectfully written, upholding the truth, and accurately conveying the experience. I put you at the table with me, and to be objective. My goal is to be impeccable with my word, being honest in the review, never making assumptions, and to always write to the best of my knowledge. My ratings are by the stars I award (from 0 to 5). The rating is calculated on a point accumulation of six separate factors with 70 questions broken down by individual experience. They include: wine and other beverage selections, plate presentation, customer service, restaurant or café ambiance, food quality, plus a bonus section called wow factor. To see more details of this rating list, read this article:


Over all from this experience, and using my rating system linked above, I give Romano’s a 0.5 out of 5 stars, meaning that they were a very basic dining experience, and did not exceed my expectations. This score could improve if their beverage, plate presentation, and some aspects of customer service increased. The six factors used to get this rating are scored in the chart below

Formula Factor Conclusions and Overall Ratings
Max Points Possible:
Total Points Awarded:
Total Points deducted:
Ambiance
9.5
7.5
2
Food quality
10
5.5
4.5
Plate presentation
8.5
5.5
3
Customer service
7.5
5
2.5
Alcohol and other beverages
9
3
6
Total regular points awarded
44.5
26.5
18
Total percentage Before Bonus

0.595505617977528

“Wow” factor BONUS
5
1
0
Total bonus percentage

0.0224719101123595

Total percentage with bonus for final star rating

0.617977528089888

Stars Awarded (see chart below)
0 - 5
0.5







5 stars
 An Extraordinary Experience
Worthy of a Michelin rating
   94 - 100%
(105% with full bonuses added)
4 Stars
An Outstanding Experience 
(Top of its class)
87 - 93%
3 Stars
Exceeded All My Expectations
80 - 86%
2 Stars
Far Above the Average Experience
72 - 79%
1 Star
An Average Dining Experience
66 - 71%
0.5 Star
The Restaurant is a very Basic Experience
61 - 65%
0 Stars
ALERT: Poor, or Appalling Experience
(Do not waste your money or time)
60% or below



Overall Star Rating:
0.5 of 5 Stars: 
62% Rating with a 1 point “wow” bonus
A Very Basic Dining Experience
Corkage fee’s:
This Restaurant does not list any corkage fee’s however, most American restaurants charge $25.00 per bottle
Restaurant style:
Casual
Cuisine style:
Greek, Mediterranean, Italian, Pescatarian, and Vegetarian
Reservations:
Not Required
Walk-Ins:
Accepted
Dress code:
Casual attire
Child policy:


The Restaurants reviewed on this site may have a child’s menu or cater to them; however for full enjoyment of food and wine, it is recommended for children not to be in attendance, unless they have been trained in proper etiquette. If not then
Hire a Babysitter! 
Experiences:
Rustic, Hole-in-the-wall, Tourist grabber, and a Neighborhood gem.
Payments:
Cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Parking:
Public lot
Wifi
The restaurants reviewed on this site may have Wi-Fi, but do not require you to go online, because the excitement of the food and wine alone will keep you too entertained instead of checking your social media and emails.
Noise level:
Low
Smoking:
Nonsmoking restaurant
Patio:
No










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Food Prices 
(excluding, alcohol, taxes & gratuity)

$£€¥ -                Under 50.00 
$£€¥ x 2 -          51.00- 99.00 
$£€¥ x 3 -          Over 100.00 
$£€¥ x 4 -          Over 200.00 
$£€¥ x 5 -          Over 400.00 


**Currencies chosen reflect the world’s major travelers and restaurant or wine connoisseur’s**

My food bill:
Currency:
Price chart:
$56.00
United States Dollar (USD)
$$
$74.00
Australian Dollar (AUS)
$$
£43.00
Great Britain Pound Sterling (GBP)
£
$76.00
Canadian Dollar (CAN)
$$
¥380.00
Chinese Yuan (CNY)  
¥¥¥¥
€50.00
European Union (EUR)
€€
Currency rates as of June 2017

 Alcohol Prices:

$11.00


Romano’s Greek Italian Pizzeria Restaurant:
906 W Robertson Street 
Brandon, Florida 
33511



Contact Information: 
Restaurant website:
Maître d or host:
+1 813-653-9477
Serving hours:
Eastern Standard Time
(GMT, Zulu, or UTC - 5:00)
Sun-Thur:
11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Fri-Sat:
11:00 am - 10:00 pm

Social Media 
Accolades:
Facebook link                







****
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Yountville, Napa, California, USA





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Reviewed by:
Sean Overpeck (CFE)
Glorified Cook (Exec Chef)
Father, Husband, Wine Drinker,
Restaurant nut, History, and 
Star Trek lover


I am based in Florida, and have worked in the food service industry for over twenty years, from restaurants to contracting in Afghanistan, Iraq, & Antarctica. The idea for Wine, Dine, and Play started in 2012. Since then over 350 articles have been written, including some San Pellegrino, Michelin, and Elite Travelers Guide top restaurants. Other articles include food recipes, a Grand Food Dictionary, ethnic country cuisines such as Afghan and Peruvian, tasting tours, exotic locations, and wine from vineyards in the old and new world alike.

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“Culinary perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, 
But in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”
-Angelique Arnauld (1591-1661)






TTFN
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